The announcement of a Government funding scheme to help elderly switch from analogue television to digital next year has thrilled Blenheim's Grey Power and Age Concern.Minister of Broadcasting Craig Foss said on Monday that financial and technical assistance would be offered to people aged 75 and over for the transition to digital television, set to happen in Marlborough in April 2013.
To qualify for the Targeted Assistance Package, viewers must watch analogue television and hold a community services card to be eligible for the Targeted Assistance Package, Mr Foss said.
The scheme provides equipment, pays for installation, provides training and gives access to a technical support line.
Marlborough Age Concern community support worker Helen North, of Blenheim, said the announcement was great news for the elderly community and their families.
"There has always been a concern about the cost, so anything that the Government can do to relieve financial pressures for them (the elderly) is a big help.
"Cost is a big issue with most when it comes to switching off the analogue signal. A lot of elderly residents are on extremely limited incomes and have to count their pennies ... It's going to be difficult for some of them to adapt."
Marlborough Grey Power president Tony Preston said it was too early to say what Grey Power members thought about the deal, but he had no doubt it would help ease concerns.
"I think the perception is people think they need to get a new TV and all the equipment when this change happens.
"We've been told that's not the case and you will only need to get a set-top box (Freeview/Sky/Telstraclear), an aerial or a dish if you haven't already.
"I think it's important residents accept the change is going to happen and save up for it the best they can," Mr Preston said.
People who receive a veterans' pension, formerly received a pension or an invalid's benefit, but have switched to New Zealand superannuation, are also eligible.
Going Digital national manager Greg Harford said the package was intended to support those who were likely to face the greatest combination of technical, financial and physical barriers to going digital.
"Nearly eight out of 10 households throughout New Zealand have already gone digital – and viewers in Marlborough who are not already watching digital TV have over 14 months to obtain the necessary equipment," he said.
"There is a range of purchase and rental options available, and Going Digital recommends that viewers shop around for the best deal to suit their needs and consult with retailers in their region.
Visit goingdigital.co.nz, for more information.
- The Marlborough Express
What do you guys think about help only being available for the elderly?
Good that igloo isn't involved too.